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Breaking Down the Wall

Rokuzan Art Museum

Takei Satoshi

Nagano Prefecture has more art museums (110) than any other prefecture in Japan. Speaking of all types of museums in total, there are 362 in Nagano. Hokkaido has the second largest number of museums, totaling 335. Tokyo follows Hokkaido, having 300 of them. (Just for your information, there are 5,690 museums in Japan. Of them, 1,064 are art museums.)

However, the number of curators and assistant curators in Nagano is surprisingly few. The average number of curators per museum is only 0.88, which means there are some museums without any curators. On the other hand, Hokkaido has 1.19 curators per museum, and Tokyo has 3.72 per museum. It is no wonder if someone compares the average number of curators in Nagano to that in Tokyo, he or she will be astonished. The national average is 1.53 curators per museum, and Nagano’s average number is the third from the lowest. Museums in Nagano are generally small and, since there are only a limited number of museum personnel, Nagano suffers from a lack of curators. Nagano is proud to have so many museums, but they are impaired because of the few number of curators, creating a difficult state of affairs.

It is appropriate to this era in which diversification of value is espoused, that various kinds of art are recently gaining acceptance. For instance, museums in Japan have begun holding exhibitions of art brut, manga, animation and so on. A growing number of people have an increased curiosity of seeing, knowing, and listening to the music that compliments the art. Curators mediate between those who supply and those who demand the art. Choosing and displaying the art have been thoroughly thought out, but current changes force us to think of a curator’s role differently. We have to be more sensitive to information and develop various kinds of new skills when the opportunity presents itself. As there are so few curators in Nagano’s museums, we need to address this change earnestly.

Although creating this new network will not solve all the problems each museum faces, there is no doubt, it will give curators a wonderful chance to develop new skills since they can now exchange new information and absorb each other’s knowledge and experiences. Curators can acquire a better view of various kinds of art and expand the possibilities in the display of art in each of their museums and improve the quality of their exhibitions. Such curators, I’m sure, not only help artists to grow but also, as a result, inspire and heal the exhibition-goers while enriching their minds and souls.